Behind Our Name: Part IV, by Michael Fricker

Last week we discussed the enterprising nature of our members and the role that private business took in the formation and name of our organization. As we move through the history, we have found that, our name has roots in Banat but also in its surrounding areas of Eastern Europe. In the States, the Banater Athletic Club as a section of our organization was the first to adopt something similar to our name today. Then the Business Men’s Association arose in the 1930s, separate, but related to our club by its many common members. The ultimate name change for our organization would not come until October 24, 1939.

Rent, Buy, Build
A club is not a building. It is not a field or a stadium. It is not a bar, a dance floor or a grove. A club is a social gathering of people around common feelings, ideas or goals. You, the members are and always were the club. Naturally, a club needs a gathering place and we have had a variety that we have given numerous names.

After that first meeting in Fred Schnabel’s “saloon” at Germantown Avenue and Oxford Street, the young Banater Männerchor acquired temporary quarters at a hall at Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue owned by the Männerchor Rheingold. In time, the Banater purchased the hall from the Rheingold and is said to have “swallowed up” its membership.

In 1923, our club purchased Columbia Sänger Hall from the Columbia Gesang Verein. Our club purchased the hall at 2007-13 N Second Street for $26,000.00. Redubbed, “Banater Männerchor Hall,” this location is the Romanesque building that your grandparents refer to as “The city” or “old club.” Naturally after 1939 and the club’s name change the name of the building became “German Hungarian Hall,” and remained so until 1961.

When in 1933 the Business Men’s Association also purchased a “tract of land,” in Neshaminy Falls, PA. That group developed it with a small clubhouse and a picnic area. The end of the Business Men’s Association was not so much an end as it was a beginning. In May of 1946, the Business Men turned over their assets to the United German Hungarians and so with it the great Neshaminy property that would affectionately become known as the “country club” versus the “city club” at Norris that was held until 1961. Today many of us see that castle on a hill and think “Oakford.”

Michael N. Fricker

This piece is part of a series that was originally published in 2014, in the Monthly Progress. It was re-released in 2022 here online.

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